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What's Wrong With Wikipedia?

If you do much fact finding online you have undoubtedly ended up on Wikipedia's website before. It is a massive multilingual treasure trove of knowledge on nearly every subject imaginable. written by thousands of volunteers from around the world. Presently it contains over 4 million articles, and has 77 thousand active contributors working on it, keeping it updated often to within minutes of changing events, while continuously expanding it's knowledge base. Whether you're looking for some info on Micheal Jackson, or need a list of Star Wars Characters, chances are Wikipedia has it. From school kids to scholars, millions of people use it nearly every day to learn more about the topics that interest them.

So what's wrong with that? As large and impressive as that may sound, some people frown upon using it as a source of legitimate information. Why? Because it can be edited by virtually anyone with internet access, problems can occur, and errors and omissions do happen. Some people even go out of their way to purposely mess with articles and screw them up. While the vast majority of Wikipedia's articles are very well written, some articles have been been known to be confusing, misleading, inaccurate, or even biased to varying degrees. Most are corrected as soon as they are discovered, but that is no easy task considering the sheer amount of information it holds. Wikipedia does employ several methods to combat vandalism, such as vigilant volunteers and bots that can detect and flag nefarious activity with 90% accuracy, but unfortunately not every problem is caught, and some misinformation still ends up presented as fact on the site.
herreesss Jimmy!!

So What Does This All Mean?  While it's true that Wikipedia isn't perfect, that doesn't mean it should be written off as easily as some people seem to think. Even encyclopedias and other sources contain errors, which is why it's always a good idea to cross reference data with multiple sources before you present something as a fact. Recent studies have even suggested that Wikipedia may have an accuracy rate approaching that of Encyclopedia Britannica. While it may not be completely free of errors, Wikipedia cites many credible sources in it's articles, which even by itself is a valuable resource for any fact finding mission one may be involved in. So while it may not be a 100% reliable source of information, it is still a fantastic starting point for those searching for the truth, and if in your cyber travels you come across an error on Wikipedia, don't just complain about it- do us all a favor and report it so it can be corrected. It's the users of Wikipedia that make it what it is, and together we can keep it as accurate as possible.

Protip- The next time you come across a Wikipedia article that you do not fully understand, change the link in your address bar from "en.wikipedia.org" (the default) to "simple.wikipedia.org" for a simpler version of that article.

Courtesy of Open-Site.org
 


Sources/More Reading
Wikipedia As Accurate As Britannica (Cnet Article)
An Empirical Evaluation of Wikipedia's Credibility
Wikipedia; How Accurate Is it?
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